My dad and stepmom came to visit this weekend.  They hadn’t come to visit for about eight years and it was great to have them here.  My dad especially always thinks the city is going to be too hot, too cold, too crowded, too…something. Lately it’s been beautiful outside.  60’s.  Upper 70’s.  Spring.  Baseball weather.  Beautiful.

And then came Sunday.  90 degrees beating down on the NYC pavement…and of course, the one day in nearly the past decade that my dad chose to visit.  Figures.

We had a great time regardless.  He and my stepmom had never been to Central Park so we took a long walk.  Beat the heat with some ice cream and waters bought at those carts you find in parks across the country.  I only just recently decided to eat hot dogs sold from a cart.  A baseball hot dog is a wonderful thing.  Something about buying a hot dog from a baseball vendor or at a concession stand at a stadium just feels right.  Buying a hot dog from a weird man with a dirty cart filled with old hot water…not quite the same appeal.  However, they are $2 and sometimes, especially lately, a two dollar lunch is just what the checking account ordered.

There were kids all over the Alice in Wonderland statue.  People driving remote controlled boats at the boat pond.  A Greek parade pouring down Fifth Avenue.  Lots of people out sunbathing and people walking their dogs everywhere.  A great Summertime scene in 90 degree weather smack in the middle of Spring.

We went out to eat for every meal which something I really only do when company is in town visiting.  My stepmom was talking about the Yankees/Red Sox games she caught over the weekend and how exciting they were.  Great games sure, but on top of that, the Red Sox won.  She’s one of those fans who have recently come back around to baseball.  She’s in her early 60’s and after the 1994 strike, she had had enough.  Too much focus on money and greed for her to respect the game she once loved.  Enough years passed though and she’s come around again.  Rooting for the Red Sox like she always has.  Of course for a while there it was because she liked to go sit in the outfield and check out Dwight Evans booty.  Now though, it’s simply for love the Sox and having something in common with her grandchildren who live in CT.

We had tickets to see ‘Chicago’ on Broadway Sunday night and she kidded about skipping it to watch the Sox/Yanks on Sunday night baseball.  She decided she could hang in there though (of course) and enjoy the show based on the movie she’s loved since she saw it.  I hadn’t seen the movie so I didn’t know what to expect.  Let me tell you…this show (and I’m sure film) does not paint a very pretty picture of Chicago.  Murders, crimes, lies, etc…I understand the city has a reputation for crooked politicians…but they sure didn’t try to shine a light on anything positive with regards to Chicago, that’s for sure.  I mean come on, throw a baseball fan a bone and mention Wrigley or something, ya know?  Of course with the way this show was going, if there had been a baseball reference, it surely would’ve been about the Black Sox scandal.

Anyway, the show was great.  Not one of my favorites of all the shows I’ve seen in New York, but up there among one of the better performances…especially when it comes to less is more.  They do a lot with hardly any set or stage frills and you’re entertained the whole time.  Which really, is a lot like the Cubs now that I think about it.  Wrigley Field.  Barebones.  Old school.  No real frills.  No cookie cutter park.  Bare essentials.  Few thrills or real ‘characters’ when it comes to our lineup.  Just hardnosed baseball that entertains you the whole time you’re at the park or following the season.  Pretty cool in that respect considering the show is called ‘Chicago’.

Some of the songs in the show remind me of some of the Cubs roster though.  Just for fun (considering we’re a few games in back of the Cards right now…not exactly the April I had hoped for) here are some of the songs that made me think of Cubs players and the players that match up:

“I Can’t Do It Alone” – Carlos Zambrano.  Ace of the staff.  No-hitter last year.  We know he’s going to bring it every time he takes the mound.  But he is not going to be able to do this thing alone. Demp, Lilly, Harden and Marshall are all going to have to step their games up if we want to repeat in the Central again this year.

“My Own Best Friend” – Aramis Ramirez.  Pretty much our only quality at third base.  Without a true backup, he’s basically his own best friend on the hot corner. Aramis goes down and we’re pretty screwed at third.  We need his glove and bat all season long.  Injuries will come and go…let’s hope Ramirez isn’t effected too often in ’09.

“Mister Cellophane” – Micah Hoffpauir.  This really applied stronger during Spring Training.  Lately Micah has been getting his share of at bats and his talent is no longer see through to Lou.  He’s giving him a chance to shine in the regular season like he did in Spring Training.  Not ready to give up on Lee by any means, but like DeRosa was great to have as a quality anywhere kind of guy, Micah is the closest thing we have to that right now on the ballclub and it’s good to see he’s finally getting noticed.

“All I Care About” – Chicago Cubs fans.  While the character that sings this in the show is rather sarcastic in singing that all he cares about is love…I think Cubs fans would be genuine.  Sure we want the trophy after all these years…but there has to be a reason we come back year in and year out.  For love the Cubs, we wouldn’t come back if it was all we really cared about.  Championships are nice and a World Series title would be insane, but be honest, you’ll keep coming back regardless.

All in all it was a great weekend.  Took my dachshund to the dachshund festival on Saturday and it was hilarious.  Dad and stepmom came in on Sunday and we had a blast in the big city, can’t wait for them to come back again.  The show was a great time and a real treat for them to take us.  Chicago needs to do something to change that rep though, it really doesn’t come off all that great in the show.  Maybe something big is needed to make people think about it differently…like I don’t know…a Cubs championship perhaps?

Couldn’t hurt.  Go Cubs Go!

AUDIO POST: Prose and Ivy on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour!


Below is the podcast recording of my guest appearance on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour Wednesday night.  The hosts were real welcoming, knowledgable and great to have a conversation with regarding Cubs and Cardinals baseball.  With the series coming up this weekend it was a great opportunity to pick each other’s brains about the respective opponent.  They said they’d keep things civil in enemy territory more or less and they did.  I had a blast and would look forward to appearing on the show again if invited back in the future.  Some of the highlighted topics of the conversation, among others:

  • AC000000 – please explain for Cards fans what that’s all about
  • The DeRosa trade
  • Expectations of the 2009 Cubs
  • ’07-’08 Playoffs
  • Injuries and other Potential challenges to the Cubs in 2009
  • (and from Tom @ CardinalsGM.com) What’s your perception of how Cubs fans feel about D-Lee?  Are they ready to sit him and bring in Hoffpauir to start at first?


(NOTE: As of 4/27/09, the show I was on is the fourth one down on the list of shows.  If you don’t want to listen to the whole show and only tune in to my appearance, after hitting play, click inside the play tracking bar right above the middle of the envelope icon.  That should take you right to where my interview started.)  It was a great experience.  Great meeting Kathy from Redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com who was on as a guest as well.  I put it out there that I predict the Cubs take 3 out of 4 this weekend.  Cards take game one and the Cubs take the next three.  We’ll see.  Go Cubs Go!

Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour


I’m going in.

Cardinals/Cubs series this weekend Thursday-Sunday at Wrigley.  The Cubs will have home-field on their side…I won’t be so lucky come this evening.

If you get a chance tonight, listen in to the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour (link here) and hear me guest as we chat about all things baseball, including this weekend’s Cubs/Cards series.  Not so sure that there will be any other Cub fans included as guests so Cubs fans should feel free to call in and back me up!  (Actually, the guys mentioned that they’d keep it civil…but you never know when it comes to this rivalry!  I’m definitely looking forward to it so if you get a chance, dial it up on-line.  Also on tonight as a guest is fellow MLBLogger Redbird Chatter.  Should be a great time and an even better series this weekend!

Had a chance to watch today’s game on-line and man…does it hurt to get beat by Marquis!  Losing at Wrigley is always a horrible feeling…but having a cast-off and lay down the beating?  Not cool.  And Marquis and his stuff?  Please.  That was pathetic.

Opening Day on the other hand was awesome.  Cubs have opened the first week of the season up strong going 5-3, currently in second place behind the Cardinals.  Lilly was amazing through seven delivering the goods no one is to speak of until it’s over (you know what I’m saying) and it’s great to see him come out strong.  Not concerned at all about Zambrano, can’t wait to see him this weekend.  I feel bad for teams who don’t have that ace that makes you believe every five starts you are going to win.  Great fun in having that with Zambrano…wish I could make the Apr 21 game against the Reds to get the Zambrano no-hitter statue.  That thing is pretty cool and a great symbol of an amazing pitching performance.  Love Dempster and expect great things from him this year.  Harden got roughed up today but again, it’s early, not concerned.

Soriano is having one of his best Aprils so far ever, especially in the past few seasons and Fukudome seems to be in his April zone like last year.  With Bradley injured with a bum groin (surprise) it’s going to be important he performs like he’s capable of.  I love the balance in the lineup Bradley brings, but this injury is a great opportunity to see Reed play a whole lot more. Nothing wrong with that.

Hopefully Soto comes around.  Sore shoulders and catchers?  Not a good mix.  If Soto is healthy I don’t foresee a sophomore slump so hopefully his body holds it together.  Same with Ramirez and Gregg actually.  Injuries could be a huge problem for this team this year, something that could ruin plans we’d all love to make come October.  Ramirez’s bat and glove don’t have the back up Gregg does.  Marmol can step up and close I feel without a real problem…backing up Ramirez?  That’s much tougher.  Miles at 2B and Fontenot at 3B isn’t exactly the ideal.

Lee on the other hand.  Aside from today’s solo shot, it’s been a slow start and really the only weak link in the healthy part of the Cubs lineup right now.  I’m kind of hard on Lee because I expect a lot from him.  He needs to step it up and be his a Cardinal killer this weekend.  Any time we get the Cards at Wrigley, we have to take advantage of it.  Playing in St. Louis is never easy…need to get these four games this weekend while we’re inside the Friendly Confines.

We’ll see how friendly the podcast/radio hour confines are this evening.  Can’t wait to talk Cubs baseball with hard-core baseball fans.  Again, call in if you get a chance and say hey.  Come back soon for a new post recapping the experience!

Go Cubs Go!

Are we there yet? YES!!!

Thankfully, yes…FINALLY.  Tomorrow is:
And the games finally count!!!
Huge changes this year.  No DeRo.  Milton Bradley’s bat balances the lineup.  Gregg as our closer.  A possibly recently disgruntled Marmol as our setup guy.  More playing time for Fontenot and a new guy named Miles.  Soto with a solid all-star season under his belt raring to go in an effort to avoid the sophomore slump.  All this and more equals a very interesting prospect that is the 2009 Chicago Cubs MLB season.  And I am ready.
I got my new gear:
I got my new Cubs Club card:
I got my MLB.TV:
I got my New York Chicago Cubs Fan Meetup group:
And the Opening Day roster is set:
I’m ready.
I decided at the end of 2008 I would no longer expect anything, simply enjoy the ride.  That’s exactly what I’m going to do in ’09.  I have no expectations.  Zero.  Simply go out and enjoy the season, all of it’s ups and downs and bumps and bruises and highs and lows.  Come October, we’ll see where that brought us.  It will be hard to maintain this mindset for sure, but it’s my new approach to being a Cubs fan.  I think we have a great chance and I wouldn’t devote as much time to the team if I didn’t always think this was the year.  However, after 101 years of it not, it’s time to stop expecting a change and simply enjoy the ride no matter the outcome.  That’s going to be tough like I said, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
That being said, here are my 2009 MLB Predictions.  Predictions that is.  Not expectations.
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Toronto Blue Jays
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins (WC)
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland A’s
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Texas Rangers
1. New York Mets
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals
1. Chicago Cubs
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants (WC)
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
Red Sox over Indians
Twins over Angels
Cubs over Giants
Mets over Dodgers
Red Sox over Twins
Cubs over Mets
World Series
Cubs over Red Sox
And there you have it.  Your 2009 MLB World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs.  Streak dead.  AC000000.  No expectations.  Simply a prediction.  Go Cubs Go!!!



Spend any time lately thinking perhaps dealing DeRosa is going to come back and bite the Cubs in the behind this season?  Time will tell.  But hearing the Sox announcers mention it today, as well as reading this article in the New York Times about DeRosa’s value to Team USA got me thinking again, you know what…maybe it will…check it out.

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The Great Debate – Why is this your team’s year?


Alright Cub fans, let me hear from you…your best argument to all other baseball fans as to why THIS YEAR is THE year that we finally claim another championship, our first since 1908!!  Fans of other teams…feel free to tell us why we’re crazy to think so…again.

Go Cubs Go!

One City, Two Teams, Three Home Runs


One City.  New York City.  The city that never sleeps.  

I can attest that while the city never sleeps, I for one am again looking forward to doing so this evening.  The new job is seriously a TON of stuff to learn: procedures, issues, tactics, strategies, training staff, outreach in the freezing cold, planning meetings and on and on.  It’s one of the most fascinating ways to spend 60 hours a week though I must say.  I really do feel like I’m making a difference and doing something that truly matters, which is a cool feeling.  I’d love to be in front of the computer all day to watch Cubs games on-line, or listening to games on the radio.  A lot of these Spring Training games are obviously during the day so I’ve been checking out box scores, watching highlights and reading up on all the latest news and updates.  I can’t wait for the city to warm up and regular season games to back again.  I already have it marked down when the Cubs come to town to play the Mets at Citi Field and am hoping to check out an exhibition game at the new Yankee Stadium when the Cubs are in town as well.  That would be awesome.

Within this massive city however, depending on where you live, hang out, frequent, the baseball population is strongly divided between the Yankees and Mets.  It’s rare to find a fan who roots for both teams as it is extremely looked down upon and hardly anyone takes you seriously if you claim to do so.  Much like trying to sell someone in Chicago that you are both a White Sox and Cubs fan.  Yeah, right.

Now every now and then you come across a Red Sox fan.  Many have joined the bandwagon for sure since their recent success starting in 2004 but considering we’re on the East coast, it’s really not surprising.  People move (like a lot of the transplanted fans with blogs in this community), people rebel against family, friends and ex’s to be different, people get attached to players that lead them to root for certain teams regardless of their zip code and again others simply climb aboard the band wagon.  A lot Sox fans populate New York as well and it’s hard to tell who the Yankee fans hate more.  I’m guessing it’s the Sox, but a crosstown rivalry is exactly that and there’s a lot to be said for it.  Considering the Sox have the upper-hand as of late though, you don’t hear a lot of trash talking (or as much anyway) between Yankee fans and Sox fans, although they still enjoy picking on Mets fans.  Calling them the JV team, saying their old stadium was a dumpster or simply enjoying watching their fans get amped up over projected success just to see their hopes crushed with two consecutive seasons of late season meltdown.  This is essentially the baseball landscape in New York.  A few Sox fans scattered throughout…but mainly a hard, loyal divide between Yankee fans and Mets fans.  I’m sure it’s no surprise that those two teams get the most attention considering they both play here, but still, between the two of them I don’t really envy either.  The ones I look at with a bit of green under the collar and for no reason related to my new job, are the Red Sox fans.

Red Sox fans walk among Yankee fans and Mets fans, nowadays, with their heads held high.  Between years of AL East beatings and Buckner, both sides had something to say to them to give them a hard time if spotted walking down the street displaying their team loyalty be it a cap or jacket, t-shirt, etc.  This is no longer a problem for them.  Now, they basically walk around and get the same response as Cubs fans.

There aren’t a whole lot of us in comparison to the Yankee and Mets fans understandably.  However, there are more than you’d expect.  I’d say on average, at least once a day I see someone walking around with a Cubs hat on.  Like Jeep drivers are known for honking at a fellow Jeep driver on the road to salute the car they have in common, so do Cubs fans acknowledge each other as we pass on the streets of New York.  We have to.  We’re all in this together and in a foreign land at that.  I’ve walked down the street wearing my Cubs gear and constantly here it from construction workers who want to talk about last night’s game.  From kids who love the Cubs and shout out “Go Cubs” as their parent proudly smiles and waves as they go by.  From baseball fans at gatherings (bars, ESPN sports zone, etc) with just the utmost respect for the dedication we show as Cubs fans, or the most absolute confusion that we’ve hung in there for so long.  Some laugh at the belief that every year is THE year and others completely respect it as they know there’s no other reason to be a ‘fan’. From the word fanatic, as a fanatic, you have to belief, simply by definition if for no other reason.

And it’s that respect that Cubs fans are shown in New York City.  Abracadabra, a loyal reader of this blog asked me what it was like being a Cubs fan in New York recently and I decided I would post about it.  This is pretty much what it’s like.  Surrounded in one of the biggest cities in the world by millions who root for one of two other teams, with the occasional yet more frequent than expected encounter of a fellow Cubs fan with similar, friendly, Cubs logo-bearing fan gear who also can’t wait to see how the Cubs do this year, believe this is the year and tune in however we can (on-line mostly, or the occasional ESPN game) to follow every moment of the season.  I recently joined a Cubs meetup group in the city and I can’t wait to experience ’09 with the Cubs fans I’ll meet as a result.  Always fun to meet fellow Cubs fans and enjoy the season together, especially when we’re all in this together.  And we might as well be together, we’re outnumbered for sure…and one day, when the sign reads AC000000, the disbelief and rare teasing will cease to exist from New York baseball fans.  They will all look at us with the respect that a championship ballclub’s fans deserve, the same way they now look at Red Sox fans.  Aside from being in Chicago, I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the country experiencing Cubs baseball and enjoying the baseball community as diverse, fun, exciting, humiliating, frustrating and fascinating as it is in New York.  Not sure if that was detailed enough, but that’s basically what it’s like being a Cubs fan in New York.  In a word?  I’d say it’s actually pretty ‘awesome’.

Today’s game was amazing.  Three home runs by the Cubs…Soriano, Fox, and Ramirez going deep.  Always great to see the bats warming up during the Spring, getting ready for the pitches to count come Opening Day.  Marshall had a great day with three perfect innings and Gregg looked great too.  Piniella says Marmol pitching in the WBC won’t effect the closer competition.  I hope he’s right.  Gregg was great and I’d love him in the set up role, but I’m still a big fan of having Marmol as our closer.  Time will tell, but it was great checking the box score and seeing the three of them going yard and having Marshall and Gregg step up with outstanding performances.

Hope everyone in New York, Chicago, Boston and really everywhere else is enjoying the excitement of Spring Training.  I know I am…I just can’t wait for these games to count for real!  Go Cubs Go!

Dempster v. Peavy and…Curt Schilling?


Arguably the Cubs MVP of last season, Ryan Dempster takes the mound today against San Diego and coveted starting Padres pitcher, Jake Peavy.  Talk about a game that has something for everyone.  Padres fans get to see how their team is doing and shaping up, Cubs fans get to see how their ballclub looks as they hope to extend their Spring winning streak to five and baseball fans get to see presumably two innings of Spring pitchers’ duel between two of the strongest starting pitchers in the NL Central.

Watching what Dempster offers up is always fun to watch and it will be interesting to see Peavy up close and personal. The guy many of us Cubs fans were hoping would be added to the starting rotation by Opening Day, displaying why we hope the young pitching we obtained in trades for Pie and DeRosa magically morph into ‘Peavy’ on the Opening Day roster. Chances of that trade happening are slim at this point, but still it will be fun to check out.

Apparently there is another pitcher on the Cubs’ radar that could be a much more likely solution when it comes to the fifth spot in the rotation this year.  That recent development?  Curt Schilling.

Mr. Clutch.  Mr. Literal Red Sox.  Mr. Need a Championship?  I’m Your Guy, Curt Schilling.  

Is it still possible for him to deliver as he has in the past after missing last season?  Who knows.  Would I prefer Peavy?  Of course.  But if Peavy isn’t coming…who would you rather?  Heilman, Marshall…or take a chance on Schilling?  I’d take my chances on Schilling.  Reports have it that if he were to join the team, he’d probably be ready to contribute come mid-season on out, no sooner.  He wouldn’t cost too much either…which combined with his resume and playoff experience sounds like a bargain to me.  Tampa Bay is the other team Schilling is considering offering his services to if said team were to be interested.  They haven’t won the big one either, but come on.  If you’re going to make a last ditch statement in your already Hall of Fame credential career by helping a team end their championship drought, where better to do it than in Chicago with the Cubs?  Nowhere.  Chicago Cubs is the no-brainer choice between the two.  

Now it’s just a matter of whether Hendry and company feel like he’s worth a chance.  I know I think he is.  Until then, looking forward to enjoying another Spring outing by Dempster and seeing what may still be in a Cubs uniform this season in Jake Peavy.

Curt Schilling…possibly in a Cubs uniform this season, huh?  Didn’t see that coming…you?

Do your thing today Demp…Go Cubs Go!

Today’s Win against the Sox…4-0 on the Spring! Heilman Strong as are Hoffpauir and Hill


 B Lillibridge 2b- 4  0  0  0  A Soriano lf      2  0  0  0
 A Pierzynski c    3  0  1  0  D Deeds lf        2  1  1  0
 C Armstrong c     1  0  0  0  A Miles ss        2  1  1  0
 C Quentin lf      3  0  0  0  A Blanco ss       2  1  1  2
 B Myrow 1b        1  0  0  0  D Barney pr-ss    0  0  0  0
 J Thome dh        3  0  1  0  D Lee 1b          3  1  1  0
 G Beckham ph-dh   1  0  0  0  J Fox 1b          2  1  0  0
 J Dye rf          3  0  1  0  M Hoffpauir dh    4  1  2  1
 M Restovich rf    1  0  0  0  S Clevenger ph-dh 1  0  0  0
 A Ramirez ss      2  0  0  0  A Ramirez 3b      3  0  0  1
 J Nix 2b          1  0  0  0  L Rivas pr-3b     1  1  0  0
 J Kroeger 1b-lf   4  0  0  0  M Fontenot 2b     2  1  1  0
 J Fields 3b       2  0  0  0  B Scales 2b       2  1  2  3
 J Castillo 3b     1  0  1  0  B Snyder rf       5  2  2  4
 D Wise cf         4  0  2  0  K Hill c          3  0  1  2
                               W Castillo c      1  1  0  0
                               J Gathright cf    3  0  0  0
                               S Fuld cf         2  1  2  0
 TOTALS           34  0  6  0  TOTALS           40 13 14 13

 CHI WHITE SOX             000 000 000 --  0
 CHICAGO CUBS              000 220 90x -- 13

 E--E Caridad, L Rivas, B Lillibridge, J Kroeger.
 J Thome, D Wise. HR--B Snyder 1 (1) (off A
 Russell). CS--J Fields.
                                   IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
 J Marquez                          2   0   0   0   1   2   0
 M Thornton                         1   0   0   0   1   1   0
 E Wassermann (L,0-1)               1   3   2   2   0   1   0
 O Dotel                            1   3   2   2   1   2   0
 R Williams                         1   0   0   0   1   0   0
 A Russell                          0   5   8   6   1   0   1
 B Salmon                           1   2   1   1   1   1   0
 J Nunez                            1   1   0   0   0   3   0
 A Heilman                          2   1   0   0   0   4   0
 K Gregg                            1   1   0   0   0   1   0
 N Cotts (W,1-0)                    1   1   0   0   1   0   0
 D Patton                           2   1   0   0   0   2   0
 K Kadokura                         1   1   0   0   1   1   0
 J Waddell                          1   0   0   0   0   0   0
 E Caridad                          1   1   0   0   0   1   0

 WP--O Dotel. HBP--A Blanco by J Nunez, J Fox by A
 Russell. SO--CHW: B Lillibridge 3, A Ramirez 2, J
 Thome 2, D Wise, J Kroeger. CHC: A Soriano 2, J
 Gathright, B Snyder, S Clevenger, D Deeds, J Fox,
 W Castillo, M Fontenot, M Hoffpauir. BB--CHW: J
 Fields, A Ramirez. CHC: A Miles, A Soriano, W
 Castillo, M Fontenot, D Deeds, L Rivas. T--2:56.

Observations and Salutations


Three games into Spring Training and the Cubs are 3-0.  Sweet.  Hoffpauir has looked great at the plate in both power stats and patience.  I kind of feel bad for guys like Hoffpauir and Fox though because it seems like every Spring these guys deliver unbelievably consistent stats, yet we simply have no room for them on the 25 man roster.  It’s a shame too.  It must drive these guys crazy.  Hopefully one of them breaks through this year somehow, especially if their Spring is as impressive as Springs past.  Hoffpauir’s the DH today so he’ll have another chance to shine this afternoon.

What’s up Lilly!  I’m happy to hear that you have the Cubs’ best interests in mind when it comes to your pitch count in the WBC.  Everytime I hear that, it feels like a boxing championship someone is trying to win.  Anyway, I always enjoy hearing that organizations have prevented their key players from playing in this tournament.  I know it’s a great thing for the game and a fun exhibition of the world’s greatest sport.  However, when you’re investing millions in guys to come through when it counts during the regular season, it’s too scary of a possibility that the guy goes down to injury in an exhibition competition.  Big Z, Lilly, Harden, Dempster and Marshall.  Ok, fine.  But if we were to lose any of those top four it would make us extremely vulnerable and a much less powerhouse in the National League.  The Cubs are definitely the on-paper favorites to repeat in the Central but a huge part of that is pitching.  We can’t lose Lilly to something stupid so I’m glad he has the team’s best interests at heart.  Have a great time Lilly, but come back healthy for sure.

Speaking of staying healthy…what’s up with the quad Milt?  We definitely need that to be a precautionary measure in pulling himself from the game the other day.  Milton Bradley makes this team so much better, especially when you figure his power in the middle of the order allows for us to keep Soriano up top leading off and not constantly questioning if we should be using his power later on in the order.  Not sure that he’ll end up leading off yet having not seen much from Theriot or Miles as of yet this Spring…but more than likely that’s where Piniella will start him come Opening Day.

I know it’s been a little while since his signing and I’m not even sure he’ll make the roster, but I like the signing of Taguchi. From what I’ve seen of the guy he can be pretty clutch late in games when you need a big hit.  If he sticks, his bat may be a great option off the bat here and there throughout the season.  The Cubs are in a great situation with how deep they are, a great problem to have.  Tons of people to look at and consider this Spring.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Piniella’s office throughout S.T. and the regular season.  That would be fascinating.  The flying ability would be cool too.

Today the Cubs and the White Sox take their crosstown rivalry across the country to battle in exhibition.  Heilman will get the start for the Cubs.  Living in New York, I’ve seen quite a bit of Heilman over the years.  He’s a guy that would surprise me if he were to take the fifth starter spot in the rotation.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the couple innings he gets today, as well as how Rami looks at third.  Always good to get those cuts in, work out the kinks from the winter months.  It came up in the chat box I have set up here in the right hand column the other day as to who should back up Ramirez at third.  Any Cubs fans out there have a preference?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Cubs have outscored their opponents 22-11 so far this season.  11 runs given up in 27 innings.  Not too shabby, but could definitely be better.  22 runs in three games.   Looking good.  Good start to the Spring.

Here’s to a good ol’ fashion walloping of the Sox today.  Go Cubs Go!

The 2009 Campaign Begins! Go Cubs Go!!! : )




And Hoffpauir is awesome.  His grand slam put the Cubs in front of the Dodgers for good today.  25 man roster here he comes? Only time will tell.  Below is the box score from today’s game.  Great to get back in the swing of things.

Wow…blog puns can really be horrible.

Just started a new job running the campaign outreach office in New York City for Greenpeace’s fight against global warming and I am exhausted.  All of last week was spent in DC in meetings and conference getting caught up with all the issues and campaign updates up until now so that’s why I haven’t posted in a bit.  I have a few great ideas for postings though, one in particular that was suggested to me by fellow Cubs fan and regular Prose and Ivy chat box participant, Abracadabra.  I’ll probably put in about 65 hours by the end of the week so as soon as I get a good nap this weekend, I’ll be writing and fleshing out these ideas!!  Looking forward to that…and let’s be honest, the nap too.
Keep checking back for game box scores, quick analysis and updates on the Cubs’ spring training though.  Regular postings on Cubs games and the team in general will be here all Spring long, right into the regular season.  ALSO, all of you are welcome to put in your two cents on the chat board located in the right hand column of this page.  Fans and I are chatting about all kinds of subjects related to the Cubs including starting pitching, CF, 2B, the roster, the closer situation, the NL Central, etc…I invite you to participate and join the chat as well as feel free to start a new conversation there about anything related to Cubs baseball.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s game against the Crew.  Go Cubs Go!!!
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Signs of Things to Come, But In More Ways Than One?


So yes, obviously, pun intended.  Every year the Cubs gear up an ad campaign to get the fans excited about the team and the upcoming season.  This year, it’s based around the world famous Wrigley Field marquee.  The images below are of the ads and tag lines they’ve come up with this year.  Personally, I only like the winter and heaven’s ballpark ones.  How do you guys feel about them?  Anyone else see them as subtle reminders that new ownership means VERY LIKELYchanges to the stadium’s name and marquee?  That was the first thing I thought of when I saw them.

Love that last one.
Joined a Cubs meet up group today to share the joys and heart aches of 2009 with other Cubs fans in New York City.  I’ll keep you posted on that experience throughout the entire season.  If it’s any where near as much fun as sharing the season with everyone associated with MLBlogs and the loyal readers of Prose and Ivy, I’m sure it will be a blast!  GO CUBS GO!

A-Rod, You Disgust Me.


And yet, you don’t surprise me.

MLB can do nothing about evidence showing that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003.  That is a shame.

It is a shame that we as fans are expected to root for cheaters.  Nearly 101 years of Cubs baseball without a World Championship.  Were we victims of cats, over zealous fans and straight up chokes…or an entire league filled with cheaters giving them the advantage over us.  Sosa would be the first Cub people would come up with as far as a player who may have used and they’d suggest that we too had our fair share of players that have used performance enhancing substances throughout the steroid era.  Cork has been proven, but that’s about it on Sosa.  No other Cub has really come up in these talks over the past few years yet I wouldn’t be surprised if some names turn up over time.  Of course Palmiero came up time and again and he spent some years as a Cub and I can’t say I’m positive no other Cub has ever used.  I just hope that the whole steroids-in-baseball-thing ends here with A-Rod.  And of course, anyone that hasn’t already been mentioned that may be listed among the other 103 players included in this, up until now, confidential testing from 2003.

Wouldn’t that be great.  Wouldn’t it be great if we’ve heard all the names, or at least have all the names, and we could put an end to doubting what we see before us.  To be able to believe in the purity of the achievements we see day in and day out on the field, throughout this season and every seasons that follows.  To know that whatever amazing stats are posted, were earned and achieved on pure physical ability and never doubted otherwise.  To know that once the Cubs hoist the trophy in the middle of Chicago in a World Series parade, that no Cub on the team cheated and the team earned it fair and square.  That would be a great thing.

As of now, I feel like these fluke occurrences (Bartman) and supernatural oddities (goat, cat) weren’t the only things that have provided Cub fans with heartache.  It’s these cheaters, like A-Rod.  Those who succumbed to the pressure of performing at a certain level that their bodies couldn’t deliver.  Those who felt the need to live up to contract deals that their overall ability could never justify.  Nearly 101 years of no titles for the Cubs, because of people like A-Rod.  Disgusting.  And MLB says they can’t do anything about it.

What a shame.

You know what though, on the other hand, so what.  We all know Bonds cheated and his records are forever tarnished.  Now, A-Rod, the guy that was supposed to pass Bonds and clear the top of the lists in the record books of asterisks comes with one giant, glaring one of his own.  MLB doesn’t have to do anything to A-Rod.  We already know he cheated and from now on, he’ll just be another cheater in baseball fans’ eyes.

To say steroids is a part of baseball is possibly a true statement, but it is a shame.  I suppose it’s also human nature to cheat and try to achieve as much as you can whether you have earned it or not.  You know what though, human nature also allows for those of us who are better than that, to decide to not go down that road and rise above it.  We can all think of things that would progress us further and faster in our own careers.  That doesn’t mean we have to do it.  You can be the top paid guy on the totem pole (maybe not $252 million) and still not give in to cheating.  It’s too bad all we have to play the game are imperfect human beings.  The game deserves better than that.  We as fans deserve better than that.  And MLB, as one of your biggest fans, right now I hope you realize that your response is as disgusting as A-Rod’s actions.  No action is not good enough.  You need to be better than that.

With pitchers and catchers reporting this week, Spring is on the way.  Hill and Wuertz have been sent away.  The team is nearly officially sold to the Ricketts family and naming rights, Peavy and the team’s official roster are still up in the air.  I have plenty to talk about regarding all of these things.  For today though, as a fan, baseball’s let me down again.  And for now, that’s all I really feel like saying.

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I Have To Pie


So, this headline would be more amusing if Pie had been traded to Toronto.  Sadly, he was not. However, Pie will now be locking down left field for the Baltimore Orioles.  A great defensive outfielder, along with Jones and Markakis, the O’s will have a strong outfield to grab all of those line drives that batters will be hitting off their horrible pitching.

I admire and respect the history of the Orioles, loved Ripken and Murray as a baseball fan growing up and still have the goal of making it to Camden to catch a game asap.  I will be keeping tabs on Pie throughout the season in a new section called ‘Still Have to Pie’ for two reasons.  1) I’m a big fan and still see amazing potential.  I’ll be curious to see how his career comes about in Baltimore. 2) There aren’t enough bloggers in this community to cover it all.  Seriously, I clicked on the team tag on the MLBlog home page and while some bloggers with sites dedicated to other teams have posted articles about the O’s and are listed there, there are very few Orioles sites.  I’m not sure why that is.  I counted about eight of them and only a few of those had anything added to the pages since last Spring or Summer.  There’s one that I liked a lot that was something about ‘the tough life of an orioles fan’ or something like that (I’ll get the title asap and link to it here for you to check out…it’s really a great read).

Ok, I just got distracted by watching Fallon on Leno.  Looking forward to checking out his new late night talk show. Anyway…my point is, Pie is gone, I look forward to seeing how he does in Baltimore and will keep a section of Prose and Ivy dedicated to checking in on his career there and there should be more Orioles blogs in the MLBlogs community. Simple observation and opinion.  If anyone knows of one I may have missed, let me know here and I’ll check them out.

Note to self: stop blogging at midnight and if the best headline you can come up with is ‘I Have to Pie’, just go to bed.

Go Cubs Go!
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Once Again


Grace, Dawson and Smith.  All left saying ‘wait until next year’.

Ok, not Grace.  He didn’t get enough votes to stay on the ballot.

Congratulations to Rickey and Jim though! I always enjoyed watching Rickey play (really enjoyed watching Rickey run) and I met Jim Rice one time at a minor-league ball game in New Britain, CT.  Rice signed an autograph for me without a blink of an eye.  Classy guy, happy for his accomplishment.

Rickey and Jim were just on Letterman with a hilarious top 10 list of the Top Ten Highlights of my Career.  Oddly enough, it was Rice who led things off with number 10.  The absolute highlight of the list of highlights: Rickey with #3: “Sleeping with Madonna”.  Jim with #2: “Sleeping with Madonna (shakes Rickey’s hand)”.  Hilarious.  All in good fun, yet, I don’t doubt it.

Dawson is definitely deserving and will eventually get in, in my opinion.  Same goes for Smith.  Salma Hayek is now on with Dave.  Time to go!

Go Cubs Go!

A Hall of Fame Look at Ryne Sandberg. Is Dawson next?


Monday is the day we find out whether Andre Dawson joins fellow Cub great Ryne Sandberg in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  While I believe this IS the year of the Hawk, many consider him to be on the fence in terms of qualifications.  I generally use Prose and Ivy for strictly observation and evaluation.  Tonight, however, in honor of The Hawk and what Monday could mean for him, I’ll use the space for celebration.  Celebration of my favorite Cub of all-time, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Though he made his Major League debut with the Phillies in ’81, Sandberg was traded to the Cubs for his rookie year the following season.  After spending ’82 at third base, he shifted to second, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
Sandberg first gained national attention on June 23, 1984, when he went 5 for 6 with game tying home runs off the Cards’ Bruce Sutter in the ninth AND tenth innings on national television.  Talk about great timing.  The Cubs won it in the 11th and the contest thereafter became known as “The Sandberg Game”.  Good times.
Sandberg won the ’84 NL MVP Award hitting .314 with 200 hits, 36 doubles, 19 triples, 19 home runs, 84 RBI’s and 32 stolen bases to lead the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 1945.  Ah, ’84.  Good year.
Sandberg was masterful in the field winning nine straight Gold Gloves at second base (’83-’91) and retiring with an all-time best .989 fielding percentage at the position.  He also set a then ML record with a 123 game errorless streak from 1989-90.  In my opinion, the best second baseman of all-time.
Sandberg led Chicago back to the playoffs in 1989, when the Cubs fell to the Giants in the NLCS. During his two trips to the playoffs, he batted .385 with a .457 OBP and a .641 slugging percentage in 10 games.  If only there were wild card series back then.
Sandberg’s best power year came in 1990 when he slugged 40 home runs, the first time a second baseman had led the league in that category since Hornsby in ’25.  He also plated 100 runs, a feat repeated in 1991 by Ryne.  Check out those old Expos uni’s.  Remember those Hawk?
Known to fans as “Ryno” or “Kid Natural”, Sandberg was also adept on the basepaths.  He stole 30 or more bases every year from 1982 to 1986, led the NL in runs scored three times and placed in the top five and additional five times.  Whether he was defending the basepaths or running on them, Ryne was a huge threat.  Speed.  Another tool Hawk had at his disposal throughout his career.  Hall of famer?  We’ll see.
After a slow start to the 1994 season (which was shortened by the strike), Sandberg abruptly announced his retirement on June 13 at age 34, citing “loss of desire”.  Sixteen months later he announced he was coming back and “Ryno” returned with two productive years in ’96 and ’97.  The more Ryno the better as far as I was concerned…still am.
Ryno was selected to 10 straight All-Star games from 1984 to 1993 and started nine of those contests.  He also took home seven Silver Slugger awards for his prowess at the plate.  Best of his time.  Best of all time.
Sandberg retired for good after the 1997 season and had his number 23 retired by the Cubs in 2005.  His 277 home runs as a second baseman were the most all-time until Jeff Kent broke the mark in 2004.  Overall, Ryno finished with a .285 BA, 403 doubles, 76 triples, 282 homers, 1,061 RBI, and 344 stolen bases in a 16 year career.  Wow.
That same year, Sandberg was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (where all these pictures and information is from, by the way) alongside Wade Boggs on Jan 4, 2005.  In his third year on the ballot, he received 76.2 percent of the votes cast to gain entry.  Enshrined for all to honor and appreciate for years and years to come.
Later that year, he was inducted into the Hall on July 31, 2005.  Ryne is quoted in his acceptance speech as having said: “I dreamed of this as a child, but I had too much respect for baseball to think this was ever possible.  I believe it is because I had so much respect for the game and respect for getting the most out of my ability that I stand here today.”  Class all the way.
Will Monday prove 2009 to be the class that Dawson belongs to?  Only a couple days left before we find out.  I can’t wait.  Go Hawk Go!

Heeeere’s Bradley!

Milton Bradley is a Cub.
There goes the neighborhood.
Or so they say.I’m willing to give Mr. Bradley a shot.  And I do so by showing the utmost respect.  Notice the use of the most respectable address you can use with the, “Mr. Bradley”.
Five teams in the last five years and seven in the last ten.  Ripken, one club.  DiMaggio, one club.  Yastrzemski, one club.  Ok, so maybe he’s not one of the greats in numbers or reputation. BUT, he may just be what we need to put this club where we need to be.  A world title?  Sure.  That would be great.  How about first off, we simply get out of the NLDS and reach the NLCS?  That would be a good first step for now, yes?
Bradley led the American League in on-base-percentage while hitting .321.  His 22 home runs aren’t too shabby either.  Last year at this time we thought we had this whole left bat/right field thing figured out too with Fukudome.  Turns out, not so much.  After making the All-Star team in his first season, Kosuke’s star faded and his second half of the season fizzled.  I blame exhaustion due to the schedule the MLB puts its players through compared to the league in Japan, as well as all the new cultural differences to get used to, the traveling, etc.  Moving him to center to platoon with Johnson and having the ability to sometimes still play a Soriano, Johnson, Fukudome outfield (which wasn’t too shabby overall last year) mixed with the usual combo of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley should be a nice position to be in.  Always nice to have some depth anywhere you can get it.  I’d of course feel much better of where we are with DeRosa on the team still, but he’s not, so be it.
Bradley has never received a long term contract and this three year deal is the longest he’s ever received.  He’s been a mess, sure.  Then again, many respected baseball minds think he’s a great asset.  Hard to sign with this many teams if you weren’t worth the risk to begin with.  Also, the Cubs hitting coach, Gerald Perry, is thrilled to be reunited with Bradley who he  had in Oakland a few years back.  He thrived under Perry there in the three hole.  Will Lee still be our guy there?  Who knows.  A good problem to have though for sure.
Given where we are right now, here is how I believe the opening day line up would look:
1. Soriano, LF
2. Theriot, SS
3. Bradley, 1B
4. Lee, 3B
5. Ramirez, RF
6. Miles, 2B
7. Soto, C
8. Fukudome, CF
9. Zambrano, P
I’d be all for moving Soto and Fukudome up a spot and throwing Fontenot in the eight hole as well, with Miles starting the season as a utility guy off the bench.  Especially hard to call without seeing anyone in Spring Training together.  In fact, with the fact that Fontenot and Theriot have been successful before and are familiar with each other may cause me to lean towards starting those two up the middle if I were Piniella.  But Miles comes with a lot of heat and buzz, so I’ve got him in the projected lineup today because of it regardless.
This group of guys has always been about team which is why I think Lee and Ramirez would be cool with moving down a notch in the order to insert Bradley in the three hole, a position he’s been extremely successful in in the past.  With Bradley’s OBP and patience at the plate, it could also be one more guy to get on in front of Lee to knock in.  Then again, with Lee’s DP problems, maybe move him to the five hole and put Rami at the four?  That might be a good call too.
It’s all getting very interesting once again this winter for the Cubs.  The only other major move I’d expect they may make is obtaining Peavy in exchange for some young pitching.  Otherwise, we’re probably pretty much looking at the guys we’ll be rooting for this year, as is. Happy Mr. Bradley is a Cub.  Until he proves to us all that he doesn’t deserve the respect and benefit of the doubt, I’ll stick with addressing him in such a manner…because with Mr. Bradley in the lineup…this thing could get very interesting indeed.
And now, Prose and Ivy presents the newest member of the Cubs, Mr. Milton Bradley:


Prose and Ivy Intro to New MLBlog Readers


As we are only about five hours away from flipping our baseball calendars to a whole new year and being that the MLB Network launches tomorrow in millions of fans’ homes across America (which could only bring more attention to the MLBlogs community), for any new visitors to MLBlogs.com or Prose and Ivy, I would like to wish you a happy new year! 

To kick things off heading into 2009, I thought I’d use a copy of the spheroid MLBlogs posted about Prose and Ivy earlier in the year to introduce myself to you and say welcome to my blog!  For everyone that enjoyed reading Prose and Ivy in 2008, thank you for continually stopping by and I look forward to talking Cubs baseball and baseball in general with you throughout 2009.  
Have a safe and happy new year,
Prose and Ivy

Spheroid: Prose and Ivy


MLBlogger: Ryan at Prose and Ivy
Signup date: Dec. 5, 2007

1. Why do you blog?

I live in New York City and there aren’t many Cubs fans that I’ve met here so far who are readily available to talk about the day’s Cub headlines or the most recent Cubs game.  It’s great to have access to a community of baseball fans in general, but especially to be able to reach out and communicate with other Cubs fans on a daily basis.  Until the Cubs hire me as a beat reporter/analyst, this is the closest I’ll come to either…and I love it!

2. What was your favorite post?

My favorite post would probably be the one titled “The Face, The Brace, The Pace, The Place and The Ace” or “The Poster Child”.  The first one was one of those blogs where you feel like you have so much to say it just flows once you sit down and start typing.  Those are exciting when they happen. The other one I just think is really funny…my own little parody of the Cubs upcoming ads for the 2008 team.  Good times.

3. Strangest blogging experience?

The first time I received a comment because I couldn’t believe people were actually reading my blog.  It’s made me post nearly daily lately with people responding and the feedback I’ve received regarding how many people are enjoying my page.

4. What is your favorite blog, including at least one MLBlog?

There are couple that I was really enjoying yet can’t seem to find any longer which is too bad.  I really like Crawly’s Cubs and Some Ballyard. A good mix of humor and analysis is what I really enjoy when reading someone else’s blog.  And anyone who enjoys my blog…I generally read there’s regularly too.

5. What would you be doing if you weren’t blogging?

Walking my dogs.  They REALLY should be outside on a walk right now.

6. Where do you think the blogosphere is going?

Blu-ray?  I don’t know you got me.

7. Favorite team and why?

Cubs.  Chicago Cubs.  Yes those Cubs.  Great characters on the team, great potential, great history, great fans, great stadium, the seventh inning stretch, the underdog status year in and year out, wondering if this will be the year and how many more years I’ll be wondering if this will be the year…and Ryne Sandberg.  He was the man.

Chevychase8. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have met two of my comedy heroes in rest rooms (BIZARRE but true).  I met Chevy Chase in rest room at a political fundraiser a few years back and was so excited I shook his hand to meet him before I had a chance to dry my hands after washing them.  After shaking my hand he looked at me and said “You gave me a wet shake.”  I didn’t know what to say…all I could come up with was “It’s all water I swear.”  The other was Bill Cosby in a Barnes and Noble bathroom in NY. I was waiting for the bathroom to become available and right behind me walk in two huge security guys…behind them, a man with sunglasses and a baseball cap.  Quickly that man became Bill Cosby.  SO COOL.  I didn’t want to bother him although inside I was freaking out as he is a stand up legend.  He then said to me “Are you waiting?”  I turned and looked at him and said “Yes, Mr. Cosby. I am waiting.” He just turned away, then turned back, smiled and said “We are waiting.”  He then left.  But for a brief moment there, Bill Cosby and I were doing the same exact thing at the same exact time.  Again…SO COOL.  (And yes, he was wearing ‘one of those sweaters’.)

9. Happiness is…

…champagne all over your team’s clubhouse at the end of the World Series.  I’d say that’s happiness indeed.

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DeRosa for three no-names???  What?!

I get Cubs updates sent to my phone.  No big deal…not bragging…just saying.  Today’s headline read Cubs Sign Miles, Acquire Three pitchers.

Oh, interesting.

Scroll down a little further…

…they got the three pitchers in a separate deal with Cleveland, which included MARK DEROSA!!!  What?!  No Peavy?  And still next year, NO DEROSA!?!  Why?  Who is this Miles guy?  Nobody special that I can tell, at least not special enough to send away DeRosa for.  Derosa is extremely valuable, perhaps the most valuable player on the Cubs team last year.  His versatility is a key component to the Cubs success year in and year out, and yet we deal him for three young pitchers.


Congratulations Cleveland fans.  You now have yourself two of the key players in last year’s division title.  A first year closer who earned over 30 saves and probably has a decent couple years left (which is all you signed him for anyway) and a versatile, do-whatever-it-takes everyday player in DeRosa.  Enjoy.  You’re about to see why DeRosa meant so much to Cubs fans.

As I write this, I thought of his nickname, The Pulse, given his erratic heartbeat condition from earlier in the year.  Hopefully this isn’t a case of Cubs doctors knowing something the rest of us don’t.  I don’t like the thought of DeRosa in another team’s uniform, but I really don’t want to find out he’s another Cuttino Mobley, yet nobody’s speaking up that something’s seriously wrong.  The physical exam is up next of course and I’m sure Cleveland’s doctors will make sure they’re not getting damaged goods.  Here’s to DeRosa having a healthy and successful 2009 in Cleveland.

As for these new guys?  Give me a break.  Looking forward to Spring to see if any of them are worth anything near what DeRosa can bring.  And Fontenot?  Looks like your time as a daily starting Cub is now.  Looking forward to seeing you in the Spring too.

This is so disappointing.  And if it doesn’t somehow result in Peavy in a Cubs uniform next year, SOMEHOW, it will be unbelievably disappointing.  Figures it happens on the last day of 2008.  This year bit it hard in more ways than one. What a fitting ending to 2008.  5 hours, 28 minutes and counting 2008. I won’t miss you when you’re gone.

Happy New Year everyone!  Go Cubs Go in 2009!

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New Approach


First off, is there a more appropriate picture for MLBlogs than this one, titled “Fans Shed Light on the Game?”

Fans Shed Light on the Game.png
Perfect, right?  
Ok, now second…the main thought behind this post.  After watching the Cubs this postseason and just now, watching the final out of the NLCS, I have decided that going forward I have no expectations.  From now on, every game, every season…no expectations.  None.
Other than enjoying myself as a fan, I have no expectations.  I may like our chances, but nothing above that.  The reasons are two-fold: Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.
Potential 2008 World Series matchup: The Rays versus The Phillies.
Now sure, the Rays haven’t locked anything up as of yet, but chances are those two teams are facing off in this year’s Fall Classic.  Not that I expect it mind you…I just like the chances.  
This year especially goes to show that it’s either your year, or its not.  I mean it has to be that way…it’s the only way it makes sense.  The Phillies barely took the East and they’ve been competitive for a while now…only its been 15 years since they’ve been in a World Series.  It wasn’t their time and they’re about to find out if their time has come.  
The Rays?  Are you kidding me?  Talk about taking advantage of this very simple theory…it could absolutely be their time.  They’re one game away from hitting the ultimate seven game series to find out.  
For 100 years now it has not been the Cubs year.  It could go on for a long time.  The odds that its your year are so slim…1 in 30 to be exact.  That leaves 29 other teams whose year it could be.  You can’t like those odds as an investor.  And that’s what we are…financial, emotional and vast amount of time investors.  You have to love something a great amount to devote such a strong investment in something with odds so great…and you’d be a fool to expect anything from that kind of investment. 
I believe we feel let down season after season because of expectations.  Not because of goats, cats or overall zealous fans in unscheduled meetings with at best average-skilled outfielders at key moments in playoff games.  Because of expectations.  We know the team is good.  Especially recently.  NL Central title after title, back to back years.  Sure they lost last year, but didn’t we expect better once in October?  Yes.  Did we get it?  No.  So we were disappointed.  
This year: best record in the National League.  Did we expect great things in the post-season? Yes.  Did we get it?  No.  So we are disappointed.  Maybe its time to simply go into season after season devoting all that we choose to simply because we choose to, to enjoy it…not because we expect to get anything in return.  Not because we think we may see something special happen that day, like a no-hitter.  Not because we expect the team will improve upon last year’s performance and take it’s level of success up a notch.  Not because we think ‘this is the year’.  Not because we expect the end of the drought.  Just simply without expectation and for simple enjoyment and love of the game.  
That way, we remain the greatest fans in the world…with a great history, a great ballpark, a great GM not afraid to spend money and put talent on the field for the fans in the seats…yet accepting of the fact that year in and year out it remains simply, 1 in 30.  
Is this possible?  Is this something I can do?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m going to try.  No expectations…simply invest and enjoy.  To achieve a World Series title would be the ultimate accomplishment for the franchise (and I say that because the Cubs have the longest drought in sports, not that it wouldn’t be a great achievement for any team).  People say that with achieving goals, it shouldn’t be about the destination, but the journey.  This journey could be LONG for Cubs fans.  It might be about time we really start enjoying it.  I hear it makes the destination all the sweeter in the end.
No expectations.  But what about the desire?  No doubt about it…this is going to be tough.
Go Cubs Go (and of course in case you’re reading this, hello Joe the Plumber!)
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“JERRY: You should just do it like a Band-Aid. One motion! Right off!”

As a fan of the Seinfeld series for years, this is one of my favorite quotes from the show.  If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll recognize it as Jerry’s suggested method of breaking up with someone in comparison to the best way to taking off a band-aid…one motion…RIGHT OFF!  Sure, it’s uncomfortable and hurts a bit, but it’s going to hurt anyway so just get it over with and move on already.

That’s how, after using a week of blogging absence to serve as a proverbial band-aid to the wound that was the Cubs sweeping effort in the NLDS by the victorious Dodgers, I have decided to now handle my getting over this brutal defeat.  RIGHT OFF!
And so it goes.
So now we’re looking at the off-season (sooner than expected…oh, right…RIGHT OFF!).  What are the Cubs going to do to fix this 100 year flop?  In recent years, we’ve been close to setting the clock back to zero…just didn’t have quite enough in the tank to do so.  Although I thought this particular group of guys was just what we needed.  Apparently not.  So.  Here is what we’re looking at for the offseason.  The roster, the free agents, the decisions.  The following is from a recent MLB.com article written by Cubs reporter, Carrie Muskat:  


Free agents: RHP Ryan Dempster, OF Jim Edmonds, RHP Chad Fox, RHP Bob Howry, RHP Jon Lieber, 1B Daryle Ward, RHP Kerry Wood.

Eligible for arbitration: IF Ronny Cedeno, LHP Neal Cotts, RHP Chad Gaudin, OF Reed Johnson, RHP Michael Wuertz.

Club options: RHP Rich Harden ($7 million; picked up Oct. 8), C Henry Blanco, $3 million ($300,000 buyout).

Player options: None

Non-tender possibilities: None


Geovany Soto, .285, 23 HRs, 86 RBIs

The Cubs expect Soto to follow up his sensational rookie season with another solid year. Henry Blanco was a mentor to Soto, but whether that’s worth the $3 million option owed him will have to be determined. Blanco started 45 games.


Derrek Lee, .291, 20 HRs, 90 RBIs
Micah Hoffpauir, .362, 25 HRs, 100 RBIs (Triple-A)

Hoffpauir is a solid left-handed bat with no place to play. He could be a better-than-average backup, but Lee never likes to take a day off.


Mark DeRosa, .285, 21 HRs, 87 RBIs
Mike Fontenot, .305, 9 HRs, 40 RBIs

DeRosa did seem to play more right field than second base in the final month because of Kosuke Fukudome’s struggles. Fontenot is a solid left-handed option.


Ryan Theriot, .307, 1 HR, 38 RBIs, 22 SBs
Ronny Cedeno, .269, 2 HRs, 28 RBIs

Theriot improved from a year ago, although his numbers did go down again in the final month of play. Cedeno hit .378 in the first month but didn’t maintain that pace.


Aramis Ramirez, .289, 27 HRs, 111 RBIs

DeRosa is the backup at third to Ramirez, who notched his sixth 100-RBI season in the last eight years and set career highs with 44 doubles and a .380 on-base percentage.


Alfonso Soriano, .280, 29 HRs, 75 RBIs
Kosuke Fukudome, .257, 10 HRs, 58 RBIs
Reed Johnson, .303, 6 HRs, 50 RBIs
Felix Pie, .287, 10 HRs, 55 RBIs (Triple-A)

The Cubs head into the offseason again unsure about center field. Johnson made a positive impact and Jim Edmonds (19 homers, 49 RBIs with Cubs) did better than expected. Pie starred in the Minors but hasn’t been able to make the transition. He is still young. Soriano is signed through 2014, Fukudome through 2011. Fukudome batted .217 after the All-Star break, and one option the team may consider is adding a Japanese hitting coach.


RHP Carlos Zambrano, 14-6, 3.91 ERA, 188 2/3 IP, 130 K’s
LHP Ted Lilly, 17-9, 4.09 ERA, 204 2/3 IP, 184 K’s
RHP Rich Harden, 5-1, 1.77 ERA, 71 IP, 89 K’s (Cubs)
RHP Jason Marquis, 11-9, 4.53 ERA, 167 IP, 91 K’s
LHP Sean Marshall, 3-5, 3.86 ERA, 65 1/3 IP, 58 K’s

Dempster earned the Game 1 start in the NLDS after winning a career-high 17 games. A wild card in the mix is lefty Rich Hill, who won 11 games and led the team in strikeouts in 2007. Hill struggled with his control and back problems in ’08. Another option to be considered is right-hander Angel Guzman.


RHP Carlos Marmol, 2-4, 2.68 ERA, 82 Gs, 114 K’s
LHP Neal Cotts, 0-2, 4.29 ERA, 50 Gs
RHP Michael Wuertz, 1-1, 3.63 ERA, 45 Gs (Triple-A)
RHP Jeff Samardzija, 1-0, 2.28 ERA, 26 Gs (Cubs)
RHP Chad Gaudin, 9-5, 4.40 ERA, 50 Gs (Cubs/A’s)
RHP Kevin Hart, 2-2, 6.51 ERA, 21 Gs (Cubs)

If the Cubs don’t re-sign Wood, who had 34 saves in his first season as a closer, then Marmol would likely get the job with Samardzija as the No. 1 setup man.”


As for the free-agents:  How do you not figure out a way to keep Ryan Dempster?  As far as I’m concerned he’s one of the most valuable pitchers in the game right now.  17 wins in his first year back in a starting rotation, which could have been higher if the Cubs didn’t blow a couple of those games for him late…and I guy who is comfortable pitching late in a game if need be in the postseason.  Some may feel Dempster jinxed us this year with his predictions in the Spring, but I’d rather have a confident pitcher who can follow it up and performs well in Wrigley, than some unknown Wrigley-untested potential bum with a big name.  I say keep Dempster…and Wood.  Sure he’s a heart attack across the board for Cubs fans and is extremely injury prone.  But, with Marmol in the set up role, its hard to find a better 1-2 punch late in the game.  Unless of course they feel like spending for K-Rod.  Then Marmol K-Rod may send us to 161-1 next year (I don’t want to get ridiculous of course).

As for those eligible for arbitration: Goodbye everyone!  Except Reed Johnson.  I say keep Johnson, lose Edmonds and try to find a strong left-handed swinging center-fielder to start for us, keeping Soriano in left and Fukudome in right.  Fukudome went South come the second half of the season, but I have a feeling that was just first year exhaustion and will get better as we go on.  His defense is impeccable too.  Having him on the team as a first option RF and Derosa around to back him up when the lumber goes silent is a situation I’m okay with.

Club options:  Harden is going to be our leader in wins next year.  That’s how I feel about Harden’s potential in a full season as a Cub so I’m thrilled the Cubs picked up his option.  Blanco?  I don’t know.  He’s fine as a back up.  $3M isn’t that much for a back up catcher so I suppose I’m fine with keeping him.  Not sure who else we’d get to back up the extremely talented Soto.  Thoughts anyone?  I’d pick up the option unless anyone has any better ideas?

The rotation: I would leave our rotation as is however I would switch out Marquis for Marshall as our fifth starter.  This of course would require re-signing Demp.

The bullpen: Get rid of Cotts, Weurtz and Gaudin.  See what that money can get us elsewhere.  Love Marmol in the set up role of course and is the perfect go to guy if Wood can’t handle the closing job or gets injured.  If that’s the case, I agree with Muskat: give Samardzija a shot in the setup role and see what happens.

Clearly a left-handed heavy swinging bat is needed.  Maybe that requires signing a rightfielder who’s a lefty and moving Fukudome to center with Reed Johnson as the fourth fielder and Pie close on everyone’s heels again?  I’m a huge Pie fan and like the kid’s potential, but I have a feeling we’re looking at 2010 for his first complete season as a starting CF for the Cubs.  Hendry might end up having $118 million dollars to play with this off-season.  That’s the same number he had last winter and he followed that up with a repeat title in the Central.  

Same spending amount sounds great.  How about greater results?  (RIGHT OFF!)  Wait ’til next year!  Go Cubs Go!  

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100 And Counting

It’s official. Cubs Baseball 2008, R.I.P.
The Cubs lost in LA tonight to the Dodgers and were swept out of the NLDS for the second straight year.  More or less it boils down to this: if you can’t handle the RISP, you have to deal with the R.I.P.
The whole thing blows my mind honestly.  This was not the Cubs team I wrote about all season.  This was some other team, right?  Come on, perhaps some other group of guys? Had to be.  These guys had some fake on the mound in Game 1 wearing a Dempster costume who couldn’t find the strike zone at Wrigley.  Had four impostors in the infield who couldn’t field a ground ball for an out cleanly.  Had a leadoff hitter who forgot about the ‘hitter’ part.  Had an All-Star right fielder who couldn’t do anything.  Led the league in rolling their eyes at the umps as opposed to celebrating wins in front of them.  Had the nerve to leave Wrigley Field with an ‘L’ flag flying and the baseball season as a whole with a loss.  No, this couldn’t have been the same group of guys, right?  And if it was, what a horrible time to choose to stink up the joint.
And while I thought these guys had what it takes, apparently I was wrong and now who knows how many of them will be back next year for sure?
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Even career years such as these…now…really don’t matter, do they?
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An unbelievable season followed up by an even more unbelievable ending.
We have no choice though.  It’s happened.  We lost…again.  Believe it.  Nine straight post season losses.
Like the Cubs season, no more to come here tomorrow.  This one stung and is going to take a week or so to get over.  100 and counting…
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